Someone much smarter than me—and that doesn’t narrow the list down much—once said that we are the sum of our experiences. Whether that is true or not is debatable, but at least in my case, the characters I create are, in fact, the sum not just of my experiences but of my imagination as it relates to those experiences.
I admit it all sounds a little complicated and pretentious, but it’s really not. I believe one of the worst pieces of writing advice thrown at wannabe fiction writers is, “write what you know.” What a bunch of garbage! Let’s face it; most of us lead pretty mundane lives. We go to work, we pay our bills (mostly on time, hopefully), and we try to raise our children the best way we can.
It’s a noble undertaking, in my opinion, but not one which makes for very compelling fiction. The vast majority of us are not, and never will be, CIA agents or bounty hunters or Federal Air Marshals or private detectives or contract killers or any of the other staples of modern genre fiction. So for most of us, “write what you know” is pointless advise and certainly won’t lead to very many satisfied readers.
Better advice, in my opinion, would be: “Write what you can imagine.” That’s similar to “write what you know,” but more like something I can work with.
You see, I write about people and subjects which are mostly . . . dark, which is my way of saying that more often than not the subjects of my books, novellas and stories are amoral, evil, or twisted. Sometimes all of the above.
So where do those evil, twisted characters come from? If you’ve ever met me in person, you know I’m just a regular guy. Never killed anyone, never kidnapped anyone, never been to jail or threatened anyone with bodily harm after about the age of thirteen, although I will admit to wanting to wreak havoc every now and then, usually after someone cuts me off in traffic. But all in all, I’m kind of boring.
However, I do have a pretty good imagination. It’s not at all difficult for me to put myself inside the head of a serial kidnapper/murderer, as I did in THE LONELY MILE, or a guy who steals a sacred Navajo stone possessing the power to reanimate the recently deceased, as is the case in my brand-new supernatural suspense novel, REVENANT.
Is it a character flaw to be able to relate to evil personalities? Probably, but it’s also advantageous when it comes to fleshing out a fictional subject in my mind, then putting that subject into nefarious situations and circumstances and imagining how he or she would react. Realistically, I hope.
Here’s my theory on accomplishing that: I believe the people society finds most repulsive are not all that different from you or I. Maybe they are irreparably broken in some way, maybe their inner circuitry is mis-wired to the point where they are compelled to commit despicable acts, but other than in that sense, they approach life in much the same way the rest of us do. They eat three meals a day, they sleep when they are tired, they watch TV before bed, they drive on the right side of the road.
In other words, they’re “normal,” except in those areas where they are not.
The way I approach the broken and twisted characters who seem to populate my work is to make them as “relatable” as possible. In their own little world, it makes perfect sense to murder an old man because he possesses something they want. I try not to over-dramatize them or make them over-the-top evil, because to them, their actions make perfect sense. They may not make sense to you or me, but if we can understand how they would make sense to those characters, then I’ve done my job. The characters then become instantly relatable, even though we know we would never commit the sorts of horrible acts they commit.
That is my theory for writing evil characters. The reader doesn’t have to agree with their actions, or even their motives, she only has to accept that those motives and actions make sense to that character at that time. That’s the key to writing a believable character.
A sacred Navajo artifact, imbued with a shocking and dangerous power.
An amoral con man, willing to stop at nothing to achieve his goals.
And a tiny northern Maine town, isolated and vulnerable.
Last November, Paskagankee, Maine was shaken to its core, held hostage by a centuries-old curse, terrorized by a brutal killing spree stopped at the last possible moment by new police chief Mike McMahon and beautiful young patrol
officer Sharon Dupont.
Now, just as the pair – and the town – is beginning to recover, a new horror comes calling.
Billionaire Seattle software designer Brett Parker is in Paskagankee to check on the progress of his newly-constructed summer retreat. But he’s not the only new resident in town. Max Acton, murderous sociopath and Arizona cult leader, has gained possession of a long-hidden sacred Navajo artifact with the ability to reanimate the dead.
Acton aims to use the stone in a murderous plot to kidnap Parker and steal his revolutionary new software design developed for the U.S. Department of Defense, selling it to the highest bidder and making millions. He doesn’t even need to get his hands dirty. All he needs is a victim to kill . . . and reanimate . . . and force to do his bidding.
All he needs is a revenant.
And the revenant is angry. And he’s deadly. And he’s unstoppable. And the town of Paskagankee will once again become a battleground between the living and the dead . . .
Genre: Adult, Horror,Suspense,Thriller
Publisher: Rock Bottom Books; First Edition
Publication Date: June 29, 2012
Allan Leverone is the author of the Amazon bestselling suspense thriller, THE LONELY MILE, as well as a previous thriller, FINAL VECTOR, and a brand-new supernatural suspense novel titled PASKAGANKEE. He is the author of the horror novellas, DARKNESS FALLS and HEARTLESS for Delirium Books, and is a four-time Derringer Award Finalist for excellence in short mystery fiction as well as a 2011 Puschart Prize nominee. Allan lives in New Hampshire with his wife of nearly thirty years, his family and a cat who has used up eight lives.
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